A month after Election Day, the financial returns are in for this year’s hotly contested faceoff in the 6th Congressional District.
According to disclosure reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac) outspent his Republican challenger, Del. Neil Parrott of Hagerstown, by a factor of nearly 12-1 on his way to winning a third term in what was regarded as the most competitive congressional contest in Maryland in 2022.
Trone—multimillionaire co-owner of a nationwide retail chain of alcohol beverage stores—largely self-financed his candidacy, as he has in the past. His campaign reported spending nearly $9.95 million during the 2021-2022 election cycle, drawing largely on $12.55 million in personal loans to the campaign, including $10 million late last June.
By comparison, Parrott—relying entirely on outside contributions from individual and political action committees (PACs)—reported spending about $841,500 in the course of the campaign, in which he won the right to take on Trone after handily defeating five Republican challengers in the July 19 primary.
Parrott managed to narrow the financial gap with Trone in the homestretch of the District 6 race, according to new figures filed with the FEC by both campaigns covering the period from Oct. 20 through Nov. 28—including the nearly three weeks prior to Election Day (Nov. 8).
During this time frame, Parrott reported spending almost $440,000 – more than half of his total expenditures in the course of the two-year campaign. Still, he was outspent by Trone by more than 4-1 during this period, as the incumbent reported expenditures of more than $1.81 million.
Final vote tallies show Trone defeating Parrott by 55% to 45% in a district that extends from Gaithersburg nearly 200 miles to the western edge of the Maryland Panhandle. Parrott held a slim 51% to 49% on Election Night, but that evaporated as the count of mail-in ballots—which strongly favored Trone and other Democratic candidates—proceeded.
While about 30% of District 6 voters are currently residents of Montgomery County, the portion of the district that lies within predominantly Democratic Montgomery was reduced by redistricting this year—providing for a far more competitive election battle than in 2020, when Trone turned back Parrott’s first challenge by a landslide margin of 59% to 39%.
Trone’s campaign reported receiving a total of $558,000 in outside contributions during this election cycle, but this represented a small fraction of total campaign costs: Trone financed about 95% of his nearly $10 million campaign out of his own pocket.
But this year’s spending was far from a record for a Trone congressional bid. In 2018, running in District 6, he pumped $17.5 million in personal funds into his candidacy, a national record for a self-financed campaign for U.S. House of Representatives. Two years earlier, Trone spent $13.4 million from his personal fortune in an unsuccessful bid in neighboring District 8, finishing second in the Democratic primary to now-Rep. Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park.
Still, Trone spared little expense this year in an effort to shore himself up politically in a district that, in the view of most analysts, shifted from predominantly blue to a shade of purple as a result of the decennial redistricting by the Maryland General Assembly in the wake of the 2020 census.
The latest FEC disclosure reports show Trone pouring $3.5 million – approximately one-third of his total spending – into paid ads on broadcast TV stations and cable systems in or adjacent to the district. His report covering the final weeks of the contest show him with nearly two dozen full or part-time staffers on the campaign payroll.
Such largesse prompted charges from Parrott that Trone was “trying to buy the election again” in what became a highly acrimonious campaign featuring two candidates with widely differing stances on most major issues.
Parrott relied heavily on direct mail and digital media to get his message out: His latest FEC filing shows him spending barely $100,000 on TV spots to reach voters in the closing weeks of the general election, a tiny fraction of what Trone spent for this type of advertising.
Parrott outdid Trone in outside contributions: He took in about $992,000, nearly $435,000 than what was reported by Trone in this category. But, despite the Parrott campaign’s overall financial disadvantage, his campaign nonetheless left more than a quarter of a million dollars in available funds not spent – reporting almost $262,000 in cash on hand by the end of November.
Trone reported his campaign had nearly $3.14 million in cash on hand, largely representing earlier personal loans to the campaign that remained unspent.